Monday, January 26, 2015

ladies: we're all on the same team

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Recently, I read the classic novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. There is a scene in the book in which the narrator, Francie, witnesses some women in her neighborhood being unusually cruel to a young mother, who is walking her baby in a carriage down the street. Because the baby was born out of wedlock, the older women, who are also mothers, are saying terrible things about the young mother and calling her and her baby names. The older women even go so far as to throw things at the young mother, and one object hits the baby before the older women disperse. This scene on the street makes Francie hate women and shy away from female friends. Who could blame her? Francie cannot understand why these women are so cruel to the young mother though they share the same experiences - childbirth and motherhood. To Francie, women aren't very different from one another.

This got me thinking. Women have always been, and continue to be, so cruel to one another. We judge one another so harshly, whether in our attempts to hide our own shortcomings, out of jealousy or just because we are downright bitches. I am not immune to passing judgement on other women, and after having done so, I often feel ashamed of myself.

I feel ashamed to have so quickly made assumptions about another human being that I do not know. I feel ashamed that I have so quickly made assumptions about this person's being and life, that I could not possibly understand just by passing them on the street, or in the grocery store, or in the hallway at work. I feel ashamed that I continue to succumb to the pressures of today's society and media. I'm better than that, dammit.

What I have found is that no matter the assumptions I have made about another woman, I find that I am usually completely wrong about her after one conversation. After getting to know her. Even after simply saying hello. And I'm sure the same could be said about people who have judged me. In fact, I remember a co-worker telling me a few years ago that the first time he met me, he thought I was stuck up. Turns out that meeting a new co-worker in a boring meeting does not allow me to make a great first impression. Since then, we have become friends and now are able to just look at each other a meeting and know what the other is thinking.

But here is what keeps playing over and over in my mind after reading that passage in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - we are all on the same team. As women, we share the same body parts. As women, we will share some of the same experiences. As women, we face similar challenges and insecurities. Yes, we are all different because we are all individuals, and we come from different places, and we look different. But we are all women. And that is a bond we cannot break, no matter how much we judge one another.

I don't believe that we women will ever stop judging each other. Women have always been, and will continue to be, catty. Myself included {no matter how much I work at it}. But maybe we can start to be a little kinder to one another. Maybe we can start to understand one another through conversation rather than side glances. And maybe by remembering that we are all on the same team, we can start to love one another and ourselves.


Claire | Fashion + Feathers said...

Amen! Tell it girlfriend :)

Anonymous said...

Totally agree! Stop the all the judging, it leads to nothing.

Because of Jackie said...

First of all, that book is one of my all time favorites. It is a slice of time that is so interesting to learn more about, and shows how resilient the spirit is. I think learning to be not as judgmental comes from age and wisdom, I think I have become much more tolerant of others as I have grown (hopefully!), and try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

V @ X-tremely V said...

Excellent post! This is probably why I get along better with guys and have very, very few girlfriends! lol!

Kristine Hughes said...

Holly, your post hits the nail on the head. Women should be supporting one another… these days, people are way too catty and dramatic and judgmental.
Loved this and totally just shared!

Micah said...

If I could kiss this post, I would. I love it. We need to support each other instead of tearing each other down.

Krista M. said...

Sometimes there is so much competition between girl"friends" that I just do not understand. Instead of supporting them they are trying to compete with them. Just watching it exhausts me. I could definitely be better with not judging a woman before even I have a conversation with her. Also, striking up conversations terrify me haha

Brita Long said...

While I definitely appreciate the intent behind this post, I feel as though you've inadvertently gone against your own advice in writing it. Absolutely, women should support each other. Absolutely, PEOPLE will judge each other or be mean to each other out of their own insecurities or lack of understanding.

But by writing this post in a gendered way, that is, implying this is solely an issue with women, you've fallen into the sexist trap of spreading harmful generalizations. "Women have always been, and will continue to be, catty" is incredibly sexist language. When women perpetuate these stereotypes, it makes it even harder to convince men to see beyond them.

Furthermore, I'm not catty, and neither are my friends. I'm not saying that to brag or claim superiority, because I definitely have my faults! But just like you point out that we are individuals who come from different places, that continues into the faults that we have.

Keep up the encouraging posts, but maybe next time, leave out the sexist generalizations.

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